Mac Miller Evolves And Launches Tour
There’s one thing all great musicians do.
That one thing is evolve.
Their music changes, or to put it another way, their music doesn’t stay the same.
Becoming stagnated is a death sentence in the music business.
We’re not necessarily talking about keeping up on the latest music trends or working with the hottest producers. Nor do we mean an artist has to continually reinvent themselves like Madonna.
We mean, musicians need to mature as people and then use that wisdom to mature as an artist.
The band with the most dramatic, important, and famous musical evolution is The Beatles. It’s hard to believe but in half a dozen years the “Fab Four” went from “I Want To Hold Your Hand” to “Across The Universe.”
The Beatles are not the only artists who evolved. The Rolling Stones, The Who, U2, The Clash, Pink Floyd, Paul Weller, and David Bowie all managed to grow musically.
In fact, most of the great artists—those worthy of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame considerations—evolved. It might not be as drastic as the aforementioned artists but they evolved.
The passage of time makes it’s easier to see an artist’s musical evolution but that doesn’t mean you can’t experience their progress as it happens.
An artist that has recently “evolved” is Pittsburgh rapper Mac Miller.
Miller has done so thanks to his third studio release, GO:OD AM.
The album dropped Sept. 18—just two days before the launch of a Mac Miller tour.
The 17-track opus features contributions from Ab-Soul, Lil B, Miguel, Little Dragon, and Chief Keef.
The LP was produced by a slew of people including ID Labs, Sha Money XL, THC, Christian Rich, Frank Dukes, Sevn Thomas, Drew Byrd, Thundercat, and Tyler, the Creator.
In order to plot Miller’s evolution we must go back to the beginning; to the primordial ooze of his career.
Blue Slide Park
When Miller started releasing mixtapes he was 15. His first studio album, Blue Slide Park, dropped when he was 19.
While critics dislike the album, it sold very well. Blue Slide Park debuted at number one on the Billboard 200.
Back then, his music was called “frat rap.” His lyrics were pretty banal and his flows were unconfident, and simple. Critics charged that he hadn’t found his voice.
As Ryan Alfieri wrote in an UPROXX article…
“In his early mixtape days, Mac’s style was the equivalent of a rap starter pack for kids; sugary instrumentals behind bars that rarely went beyond the “who you know that’s iller than Mac Miller” message.”
Adding to his party image was his MTV2 reality show, Mac Miller and the Most Dope Family. It was Miller’s lame attempt to combine Jackass with Entourage.
Watching Movies with the Sound Off
Miller’s sophomore effort, Watching Movies with the Sound Off, hit streets in 2013.
Commercially, it didn’t live up to its predecessor but critics started to come around on the rapper who looks like a clerk from Best Buys.
In Watching Movies, Miller employed bleak and dreary lyrics. The somber mood was appropriate since Miller had moved to Los Angeles (to make his second album and his television show) and picked up a drug habit.
Chris Gibbons, in his album review of GO:OD AM for The Boombox, had this to say about Watching Movies with the Sound Off:
“Miller’s more poppy sensibilities remained, but the tone was darker. The lyrics were more focused on depression and drug addiction than having a good time. “
Miller’s drug habit was so bad that he had an “intern” whose job it was to wipe cocaine and blood off of rolled up bills.
“…I looked at my phone and saw that I had him [listed] in there as ‘Intern.’ I asked him what he had me in his phone as. He said ‘My hero.’” — Mac Miller
Surprisingly, that wasn’t rock bottom.
Miller reached rock bottom while touring Europe. He called up legendary producer Rick Rubin and asked for his help. Rubin gave it and Miller got clean.
He then left Los Angeles and relocated to New York City.
“I wanted to come back to reality. New York is a good place for that.” — Mac Miller
Miller’s third album, GO:OD AM is also his first with a major label, Warner Bros Records. Miller signed with Warner because they allowed him full creative control.
It was a good decision by both entities because GO:OD AM is Miller’s best work to date. It takes the fun of his debut record and combines it with the maturity he began displaying in his second issue.
On top of that, Miller adds doses of wisdom, depth, confidence, conviction, and earnest introspection. He’s no longer making music for frat parties or making music while high.
He’s just making great music.
Furthermore, Miller’s style and flow have matured. Not only does he have more profound things to say, but he’s rapping those insightful ideas better than ever before.
Miller has finally come into his own as a rapper, and he’s demanding that we take him seriously as an artist.
What’s really amazing about Miller’s evolution is he’s still only 23 years old!
In five years, Miller has gone from frat rapper to legitimate hip hop artist. One can only imagine where the next five years will take him.
Where will he be when he turns 30? What will he sound like then?
In GO:OD AM, Miller addresses the infamous “Eminem Comparisons.” The two rappers are often compared to one another because they’re both white (and diminutive). Other than that they have little in common.
Miller actually has more in common with Wiz Khalifa—they both went to the same high school.
In the album’s second track, “Brand Name,” Miller raps:
“I’m a white rapper, they always call me shady/Got no idea what I’m contemplatin’”
Mac Miller Tour
Miller’s 2015 Tour has more than 60 dates scheduled for the United States, Canada, and Europe.
A group of artists, including Goldlink, Michael Christmas, Domo Genesis, and Remember Music, will open for Miller. They’ll take turns warming up audience so don’t expect every artist to perform at every show.
Miller will be in Europe for five concerts in late September and early October. He’ll return to the States on Oct. 6 for a gig at the Water Street Music Hall in Rochester, New York.
Look for Mac Miller concerts in Cleveland (Oct. 9), Detroit (Oct. 14), Seattle (Nov. 9), and Las Vegas (Nov. 17).
Perhaps the highlight of his road trip his Oct. 31. On Halloween Night, Mac Miller descends on Morrison, Colorado for a show at the world famous Red Rocks Amphitheatre.
Miller’s tour ends Dec. 20 in Toronto.
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